Patients and methods: Patients with advanced colorectal cancer were registered from 24 centres between February 2010 and April 2011. With their consent, patients' tumour samples were analysed for KRAS/BRAF oncogene mutation status and topoisomerase 1 (topo-1) immunohistochemistry. Patients were then classified into one of four molecular strata; within each strata patients were randomised to one of two hypothesis-driven experimental therapies or a common control arm (FOLFIRI chemotherapy). A 4-stage suite of patient information sheets (PISs) was developed to avoid patient overload.
Results: A total of 332 patients were registered, 244 randomised. Among randomised patients, biomarker results were provided within 10 working days (w.d.) in 71%, 15 w.d. in 91% and 20 w.d. in 99%. DNA mutation analysis was 100% concordant between two laboratories. Over 90% of participants reported excellent understanding of all aspects of the trial. In this randomised phase II setting, omission of irinotecan in the low topo-1 group was associated with increased response rate and addition of cetuximab in the KRAS, BRAF wild-type cohort was associated with longer progression-free survival.
Conclusions: Patient samples can be collected and analysed within workable time frames and with reproducible mutation results. Complex multi-arm designs are acceptable to patients with good PIS. Randomisation within each cohort provides outcome data that can inform clinical practice.